Bhavdeep Dhanjal

March 15, 2021

May 2020

(disclaimer: I wrote this back in May 2020)

TLDR: I love making a lot of plans but I always fail, so here’s a plan and this time I won’t fail, I promise. And also a whole lot of extraneous personal details.

Today is the end of two weeks of vacation where I did not go anywhere (lockdown due to corona) and I concluded another set of failed goals. I love making plans, it is lovely to put pen to paper as you look at the week/month/year and make plans, be all methodical about it, maybe tell a friend or two. And then I proceed to distract myself with a billion streams of consumption. And then I feel sad.


I wrote the first post on my blog in 2019 Jan and I thought I would write regularly after that. Well, that didn’t happen. I ended up writing just twice. My fears of committing to a complete post were true and I ended up slacking again. I have a lot of ideas so I am hoping this post can act like a reboot.

Taking stock of the past year or so

Moving to Germany

I moved to Germany last year in May and it is about to be a year since I have been living here away from my home in India. I was fortunate to get such an opportunity and I like living in Hamburg. A lot of the last year went away in adjusting and getting better technically. Especially the 3 month period of August-October was quite productive where I ended up working and learning a lot.

I wanted to write but never sat down to write but they were more ideas that I thought about in the shower and never sat down to flesh out. I put poetry on the backburner too as I was blanking out more often than not. I broke up with my girlfriend of two years while I was in Hamburg in somewhere around July. It was terrible and I ended up overdosing on the distraction train more than ever. I was doing busy work all the time and everything felt under-stimulating.

Towards the latter part of the year I was moving aimlessly and hurtling at great speed towards nothing in particular, maybe the end of the year(?). It is quite fascinating how easy it is for a time period to become a blur when you have no emotional anchors as checkpoints.

Trip back to India and a week in Leeds

November onwards a lot of trips were planned that weren’t solo trips. I met one of my closest and oldest friend, Gyani in November for three days in Tbilisi. I ended up having a great time. Especially having coffee at night at a weird overhanging table at this open-air makeshift cafe that was overseeing old Tbilisi at night. It was quite beautiful.

I went back to India in mid-November for 16 days. I surprised my parents and it was fun to be back. I spent most of my time with my family and my close friends, Anusha and Sumit. It was a lot of quality time that I spent with them all.

Leaving India was more difficult this time around than in May. Last time there was a lot of nothingness that I was going into, which is a good feeling for me; this time I knew what I was going back into(cue intersecting lines are sadder than parallel lines). Add the downward slope I had sat on before coming to India and I wasn’t looking that keenly onto my return.

I was back and Hamburg was in Christmas spirit, it was a fun time and the month was not as bad as I had thought initially. I wasn’t homesick as I feared I would be. It was still a blur, I was moving towards nothing and I ended up either drinking too much or wasting my time on social media. It is completely okay to not be productive all the time, but a lack of joy along with it made me pretty miserable.

On Christmas, I sat in the plane for Leeds for a week-long stay with my friends Sid and Shridhar. It was some of the best time I had in some time. We stayed at his student accommodation, a lot of his friends were away and it was the holidays, and we ended up not going out much for sightseeing or to some other city (although we did make a failed plan for Liverpool).

I did not pressure myself to work or be productive. I watched a lot of football with them, we would joke around all the time, or go down and play pool or just talk in general. I would wake up and work on some songs or write something. One night I sat up and worked on Kreise.

I think the reason I enjoyed it so much was because I felt no rush to go somewhere or do something and I didn’t feel isolated as I had started feeling in Hamburg. I spent New Year’s Day in London going around looking at different aquatic life at Sealife and just walking around in the city.

New year and back in Hamburg

It was bittersweet being back but it was a new year and my mood generally looks optimistically towards what I can do at these ‘new starts’. I made resolutions for the year. I like making plans, my plans never work out but I am an optimistic person. I thought that this time it will be different, I will make realistic goals, I will break down those goals and follow up over regular intervals. These were my realistic goals:

  • Read 24 books (2 per month): A reasonable goal but I didn’t read any till March. It’s looking up though as I am at 4 now.
  • Write 12 articles (1 per month): I am hoping that I pick up steam after this. (Another plan 🙃)
  • Write a poetry book: The plan was to organize my thoughts, write a lot of poetry by March-end and then start fleshing out the ideas and concepts. I had written one poem by March-end. April was a little better in this regard but this is not a modest goal and I was way too optimistic back in January.
  • Try to be nicer, start journaling for behaviour retrospection, start meditating: All these are sort of related and I have completely failed so far. I don’t maintain a journal, I have meditated once so far.
I quickly realised that these were lofty goals and I was trying to take on too much. Along with this, my mental health was not that great and the goals put more pressure on me than helping me out.

February and the start of accountability

In February, Gyani and I started telling each other what we would do the next day and follow up at the end of the day to stay accountable. I hope to write more about this and what accountability means to me in a future blog.

I think this kind of exercise can only consistently work if you do it with someone who is close to you and wants good for you at heart. I think we did this every day in February although we missed here and there in March as Covid19 started disrupting routines and completely halted in April.

I almost always failed most of my tasks or if I did end up doing the tasks, I was not consistent enough for it to drastically affect my work ethic. Despite all this, I think it positively pushed me to aim to be better(I still kept having self-doubts where I hated myself for failing the smallest of tasks). Talking to a close friend about how we can improve and failing in a safe zone is an amazing thing.

Corona and isolation overdrive

On March 16th, Hamburg went in lockdown and the future of my company was in jeopardy as my company started haemorrhaging money due to corona causing a loss in business.

It has been over 50 days now since I have spoken to anyone in person. Apart from the occasional Danke Schön and Tschüss with the supermarket checkout person. The first month was horrible. I was constantly feeling isolated and overly anxious due to people dying everywhere and being worried about the well being of my friends and family.

It got a bit better in the latter part of April as I went into the start of my two-week vacation. This was the freest time available I had since I was a little kid maybe. There was no pressure to meet anyone (I did spend a chunk of my time on calls with people though), no places to go to, no office work, nothing. I made another plan (who would’ve thought) and I was measured and ensured that I can be realistic in what I can achieve this time. I achieved zero goals completely.

  • Complete the Stanford Web Sec course: I ended up watching 4 episodes
  • CI (Gyani and I had decided to challenge each other in making a Continuous Integration server): I scrambled at the end to make a server but didn’t make any frontend.
  • GuitBetter (A Guitar chord change practice app): Didn’t even code for one minute on this
  • Write 2 blog posts: Wrote 0 (1 if you count this). Although to be fair to myself, I did end up writing a lot of material and should be in a better state to continue working and posting more.
  • Organize my thoughts (Over the years, I have written a lot of ideas, poetry, rants on different apps and notebooks. Wanted to make it more central): I did end up working on this, for some time but nowhere where it was enough.
  • Finish 3 songs: I did end up finishing the music for two of those and have the music almost down for the third one. I played a LOT of guitar over the two weeks and it was joyous playing and composing.
  • Read every day: I did read every day except the last 2 days.
  • Do some life thinking: I have no new insights about myself or life. I envisioned that I would sit in the park for hours at end and understand myself more. (Naivete is nice)
The last two weeks weren’t a complete disaster I suppose after I write it down like this (maybe journalling is a good idea).

I still think that all the goals were achievable and I could have skipped on the garbage youtube videos that I saw. I feel that I have failed still. I know this isolation inducing environment isn’t a very healthy time for soul searching or a proper vacation, but there was a possibility and I think that makes me be harder on myself.

What’s the point of all this?

I don’t know that very clearly.

Something needs to change though. Or maybe punching up to pull yourself up while regularly falling is not such a bad thing. I always wait for something to change drastically, for me to gain some insight, have a life-changing epiphany, for me to do some soul searching and hoping I come out a different person at the end of the search but I don’t think that works.

I think it is just about continuing to try and fail in most of what you do. And over time you get sort of better in certain things and grow as a person. It is like when you were a kid and some relative would visit you after many years and say how tall you’ve grown, but to you, you were the same.

I would love to have a life-changing revelation, that can solve my work ethic issues, my mental issues or make me understand myself. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) it doesn’t work that way. It is kind of boring when you think about it. Fail and be consistent at failing and then you get kind of good at something.

Boring is very difficult though. And it is really hard to get through too while you constantly feel bad about failing.

I am hoping that I end up writing more. Finish those ideas and post more. I hope it is not as boring and personal as this one 🙂